Like you, whenever I look at my phone or my TV I see news about COVID-19. The reason it’s such a big deal is because every 100 years or so the world experiences a pandemic like the Spanish flu. That flu infected 500 million people and anywhere from 17 million to 50 million people died.
No one knew what was killing them. There were theories, crazy theories. People said it was because the planets were aligned a certain way, others said it was caused by bad oats from Russia, still others said it was caused by volcanic eruptions. Go easy on these people. We didn’t know about viruses until 1940. The Spanish flu happened in 1918-1920. And we didn’t know much about infection control either. Spanish flu patients were crammed together into rooms filled with cots.
Today we know the Spanish flu was caused by the H1N1 virus. H1N1 reappeared in 2009. I served as a member of an Emergency Operations Center during that time (which doesn’t make me an expert). We were planning for the worst. But in less than a year it became obvious the number of cases was trending down. So we shut down the EOC.
Back to COVID-19. Is it the 100 year pandemic? Is it as serious as the Spanish flu from the early 1900s?
Or will it fizzle out like H1N1 did in 2009-2010?
Here’s the answer from a medical infectious disease control perspective: It could be nearly as serious as the Spanish flu, or, it could fizzle out in a few months.
We really don’t know.
But for the Christ follower, there are answers.
The first answer is no matter what happens, we know God is still in control.
And even if COVID-19 does turn out to be a serious 100 year pandemic, we know where we’re going if we die. “For me to live is Christ, and to die is gain,” Paul says in Philippians 1:21. Which means if we die, we enter into the presence of Jesus, and nothing’s better than that. The best day in a believer’s life is the last day in a believer’s life on earth, because to die is to gain in this way.
“For me to live is Christ,” Paul said. So if we don’t die, if we continue to live, for us to live as a Christ follower is to live as Jesus lived. If you follow this blog or if you’re reading my book Love Like Jesus, you know I’m big on imitating Jesus, and that’s what Paul’s talking about here. Paul was a self proclaimed imitator of Christ and he said so directly. (see 1 Corinthians 11:1)
And how did Jesus respond to disease? He healed people. Jesus didn’t fear the sick, he helped them!
One of the things that set apart the early Christians from the rest of society was during urban plagues, Christians didn’t leave. They stayed in their cities and cared for the sick and dying whether they were believers or not. Sometimes it even cost them their own lives. But that’s loving like Jesus. (This practice was a point of serious frustration for those opposed to Christianity by the way.)
So even if COVID-19 turns out to be a 100 year pandemic, as a Christ follower, as a Jesus imitator, we’re not to panic.
The best possible response for the Christ follower to COVID-19 is peace.
Peace and helping the sick however we can.
In Jesus’ name.
Jeremy Brown, The Coronavirus Is No 1918 Pandemic, The Atlantic, March 3, 2020
Spanish flu, Wikipedia
Timothy Keller, A missionary encounter today?, Timothy Keller Blog, February 9, 2017
Image of coronavirus via CDC — labeled for reuse
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Thank you Kurt for this insight and may God be glorified through the wisdom He has given you!
Great to hear from you Mirv! And thank you! I pray the same for you and more!
I wish more Christians felt this way. My husband helps at a potluck for feeding the needy/poor/homeless & now they want to not allow access to the church or the bathrooms. There is a separate portable shower ministry that is set up outside but it does not have bathrooms. They will no longer feed indoors but give food – to – go and NO one as far as I know has tested positive but we are in CA. They never wanted to give out “to go” boxes before because it was important to give a devotional & let the hungry hear the Word of God. ??? It all reminds me of how lepers were treated. Should we all wear shirts saying “Unclean”? Feeling frustrated and let down.
I understand how you feel Paulette! Hoping and praying you and your husband can influence those around you.